Techno-dystopias are making a comeback!

I heard that The City & The City by China Miéville is supposed to be a pretty good book, so I thought I’d check it out. In the meantime, I found a short story by Miéville online at Socialist Review. It was written in 2004, but feels very 90’s corporate-fascist (a la Snow Crash).

Call me childish, but I love all the nonsense – the snow, the trees, the tinsel, the turkey. I love presents. I love carols and cheesy songs. I just love Christmas™.

That’s why I was so excited. And not just for me, but for Annie. Aylsa, her mum, said she didn’t see the big deal and why was I a sentimentalist, but I knew Annie couldn’t wait. She might have been 14, but when it came to this I was sure she was still a little girl, dreaming of stockings by the chimney. Whenever it’s my turn to take Annie – me and Aylsa have alternated since the divorce – I do my best on the 25th.

I admit Aylsa made me feel bad. I was dreading Annie’s disappointment. So I can hardly tell you how delighted I was when I found out that for the first time ever I was going to be able to make a proper celebration of it.

Don’t get me wrong. I haven’t got shares in YuleCo, and I can’t afford a one-day end-user licence, so I couldn’t have a legal party. I’d briefly considered buying from one of the budget competitors like XmasTym, or a spinoff from a non-specialist like Coca-Crissmas, but the idea of doing it on the cheap was just depressing. I wouldn’t have been able to use much of the traditional stuff, and if you can’t have all of it, why have any? (XmasTym had the rights to Egg Nog. But Egg Nog’s disgusting.) Those other firms keep trying to create their own alternatives to proprietary classics like reindeer and snowmen, but they never take off. I’ll never forget Annie’s underwhelmed response to the JingleMas Holiday Gecko.

No, like most people, I was going to have a little MidWinter Event, just Annie and me. So long as I was careful to steer clear of licenced products we’d be fine.

It’s worth a read.

Sandkings, by George R.R. Martin

I randomly found a link to an amazing short story by George R.R. Martin.  It is a sci-fi story about someone who buys a “fishtank” of tiny semi-sentient hivemind creatures who create small castle-based societies and busy themselves fighting each other.  I think it should be pretty clear why I would love it – go read it here.

Just a lil’ bit of the ol’ fifth dimension

5th_dim_1_largeThis short strip epitomizes pretty much everything I love about graphic stories.  The illustrations are beautiful, the storyline makes very little sense, and it is taking full advantage of its medium to tell a story more fully than you could otherwise.  Go read, it is short, you will enjoy, this is a promise.